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Concrete shortage impacts development in Nashville

concrete truck
Posted at 3:53 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 21:21:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A concrete shortage is causing delays in commercial and residential development projects in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

In 2021, the state set a record for concrete production in Tennessee, according to Alan Sparkman at the Tennessee Concrete Association.

"There’s a lot of restraints on imported cement right now that trace back to the pandemic,” Sparkman said. “So we don’t have that relief valve."

He said building a new cement mill would cost more than a billion dollars, and it generally takes a decade.

Sparkman said it might take weeks to get a concrete order to a job site in 2022.

"When you look at concrete relative to steel or lumber, we’re far less volatile, it’s not nearly as many ups and downs, and our upward line is much lower than the other materials," Sparkman said.

That's why when concrete prices went up, some developers and sub-contractors were scrambling.

"So yes, it’s more expensive, that’s driven by shortages of cement primarily, it’s also driven by the price of diesel fuel," Sparkman said.

He said backup cement is usually ordered from countries like Turkey. He said since they get coal and natural gas from Russia, the entire supply chain has been thrown off due to the war with Ukraine. "It’s a variety of factors, some people call it a perfect storm,” Sparkman said.

On the bright side, he said there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

"But for projects that are being planned that aren’t going to start construction, for example, the Titans stadium until 2023, I don’t think this issue is going to impact them," Sparkman said.